Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012

Family and Friends!!
Greetings everybody! Another week has flown by at 2005n 900e Provo, Utah 84604! It was another great week, each week I can't believe how much I learn and grow. I am truly going to miss this place when I leave.  It has been an incredible opportunity to serve here and I have loved it!
From multiple sources this week I have heard how well Ryan played to end the season. Atta baby little bro, I'm very proud of you. It also sounds like you guys have such a sick trip planned in the coming weeks heading up to Rexburg! Ryan will love seeing the crew I'm sure and that's so awesome that the Fialas will be there at the same time! Crazy good luck! What's the latest with Dad's preparation for Dancing with the Stars? Just to make sure, I need to have this recorded so that I can watch this in two years. Hahaha Pops, just don't hurt yourself.
So it has been crazy for me this week to hear that Elder Garrett Adams is already home. That seems very strange to me, it seems like not too long ago Kevin, Hadley and I were rolling up to listen to his farewell. It sounds like he gave an awesome homecoming talk. Even though I don't know Garrett that well, I have enjoyed reading stuff on his blog, reading his Christmas letters and learning from his example. He was an awesome missionary it sounds like.
So tomorrow is a big day. If we are leaving for Mexico on our scheduled leave date of 02/27, then tomorrows is the day that we will receive our travel plans!!!!!!! It's crazy that it's already here.  In a way it feels as though I just got here, but in reality, I am ten days from leaving. If we haven't gotten our VISAs, I'm not exactly sure what happens next. It seems very vague whenever we ask haha. I would assume we will be here for another two weeks or so and then reassigned, but whatever happens is fine by me. I know I will be where God needs me when he needs me there.
This week I have been reading in 2nd Nephi for my personal study and I have loved it. I hope that everyone will take some time to read and ponder on 2 Nephi 31. It is an awesome chapter where the Gospel of Jesus Christ or "The Way" is laid out very plainly and easy to understand. A verse that really got me was verse 20. A recurring theme throughout the scriptures is that all of us who wish to follow Christ must follow his example and keep his commandments. If we do this, we are repeatedly promised eternal life; but occasionally the scriptures dig deeper and they will tell us characteristics that we must develop. Three that always seem to go together are faith, hope, and charity.  While I have been in the MTC, I have been striving to learn more about these; what they mean, and how we develop them. The three traits really all do seem to go together and it is because you need to have the first two in order to develop the third. Faith is the foundation upon which we all must build. We must have faith in Christ in order to believe in him and do as he has asked us to because many times what he asks is not easy. Faith develops hope. Hope is a sincere belief in something better, it is truly having faith that after this life we will all stand and be judged, and rewarded for our works.  This hope also drives us to do what is right. And then there is charity, or the pure love of Christ. Charity is a gift from God that can only be gained through selfless service, faith, and hope. When you think about it, charity comes as we truly focus our lives around Christ; around His sacrifice for us, around His love for us, and around His commandments which He has lovingly given to us so that we can each return and live with Him. When we are truly trying to live like Christ, selflessly serving others, we gain charity and true conversion, not to any worldly thing, but to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Through that, we live His principles and doctrine which are explained in 2 Nephi 31. All three of these characteristics are mentioned (not all by name) in verse 20. Friends and family, let us all press forward with a steadfastness in Christ; because when our steadfastness is in Christ, we have nothing to fear in this world because through our faith, our hope, and hopefully our charity, we know what is waiting beyond.  It is something so much greater than any reward of this world. I know this to be true and I am working very hard to increase my faith, hope, and in turn my charity.
This week we also had a leadership meeting where our branch presidency asked each of us to think of a good leader in our lives besides our parents. I thought and immediately my mind turned to one person:  Lalo Otuafi. He was my coach in both sports, and he's also one of my very best friends. They asked me to tell about the person I was describing and I happily told about my friend Lalo, the coach who understood people very well and knew when to push and when to love. I told of how he made so many sacrifices in order to give of his time and his knowledge to high school kids. I talked about how he is maybe the most humble person I have ever met and how time after time I saw him help those who needed him taking no thought for himself.  I talked about how much I learned from him. Less about sports and more about being a good person, about helping others, and about what is really important. Lalo, I am so grateful for your example and friendship and hope I can make you proud.
I love you all and hope that all is well. Let us all try and focus our lives around our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and view and treat each person we meet and see as a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. If we do this, you will feel an increase of love and joy come into your heart, a desire to serve and your desire to sin will lessen significantly. I testify that this church is God's church upon the Earth.  Christ is at the head, and by living His gospel, we will all obtain that which is most precious. Whenever you have a question, prayerfully search the scriptures and let the Holy Ghost guide your thoughts and actions. May the lord bless you. Let us all press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.
Elder Stockard

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